We’d like to take a moment to pause and reflect on MNC Wednesday as longtime Florida State Seminoles Head Coach Bobby Bowden passed away this week. Not only did Bowden coach the Seminoles to three mythical national championships in the 1990s by our account, he also led them to 14 straight finishes in the AP Top 4 at one point in his storied career. That will probably never be duplicated, even by cheatin’ Nick Saban.
Anyway, moving forward to the start of the SEC lobbying era that has continued its lurking to this day …
The 2006 MNC: Another example of the BCS falling out of the tree head-first and landing on its feet
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results:
1. Florida: 13-1-0 — W, BCS, 41-14
2. Ohio State: 12-1-0 — L, BCS, 14-41
3. LSU: 11-2-0 — W, Sugar, 41-14
4. USC: 11-2-0 — W, Rose, 32-18
5. Boise State: 13-0-0 — W, Fiesta, 43-42
6. Louisville: 12-1-0 — W, Orange, 24-13
7. Wisconsin: 12-1-0 — W, Capital One, 17-14
8. Michigan: 11-2-0 — L, Rose, 18-32
9. Auburn: 11-2-0 — W, Cotton, 17-14
10. West Virginia: 11-2-0 — W, Gator, 38-35
Remember when the SEC argued that rematches in the BCS title game were unfair? This was that year, although the SEC would change its hypocritical tune within just five years, of course—and get its way, thanks to dollar signs. And people wonder why college football is so fucked up … So, the Gators beat the Buckeyes in this “title” game.
The B1G had one undefeated team and two one-loss teams at the end of the regular season, and USC finished No. 1 in the SRS ratings, but Florida ended up No. 1 in the poll(s). The Broncos went undefeated with that classic Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, so they join the Gators and the Trojans in our finals. The Cardinals advance, too, for winning the Big East.
Any other small schools to consider? BYU went 11-2 with a bowl win over Oregon, so the Cougars can slide forward. That’s about it. But we have to point out that before the bowl season, there were two undefeated teams and three one-loss teams to choose from in selecting the “title” game participants—and two-loss USC was the best team, sabermetrically. Remember this later.
- BYU: 13 Division I-A opponents, -1.33 SOS rating, 74th of 119
- Boise State: 12 Division I-A opponents, -2.58 SOS rating, 86th
- USC: 13 Division I-A opponents, 7.90 SOS rating, 2nd
- Florida: 13 Division I-A opponents, 6.95 SOS rating, 4th
- Louisville: 13 Division I-A opponents, 2.94 SOS rating, 28th
This is rather interesting, as clearly the Trojans were the best team in the country, but they were shutout of the title game despite having better credentials than the Gators. USC lost on the road twice by a total of six points, and that cost them a shot at another MNC. Strangely, Florida’s scheduling of Western Carolina should have cost them a title, too, but with the SEC lobbying, they got the title shot, anyway.
Ohio State’s schedule was relatively weak, despite its wins over four ranked teams, and perhaps the title game should have been the Gators and the Trojans—but the system at the time couldn’t see past the W/L records at all, even with the allegedly computer formulas being “sophisticated” … a sign of the times.
So, this is our dilemma: USC was clearly the best team, but Florida gets our nod, because we’re consistent with our rules. The Trojans didn’t get the breaks they needed, and that sometimes decides it all in the end. The Gators finished third in the SRS, behind Louisville, but they end up with the MNC nonetheless. The BCS “got it right” again, totally by chance. Surprise!
This is the Gators’ first MNC—and the first for Head Coach Urban Meyer, too—in our analyses (since we stripped them of their 1996 faux crown), and it’s the first time we’ve had a first-time title winner since Florida State in 1992—the first of Bowden’s three aforementioned MNCs (along with 1997 and 1999).
Congratulations to the 2006 Florida Gators, the mythical national champion!